The Dragon Pantheon
Tiamat (destruction and reincarnation)
Bahamut (protection and stability)
Ea (creation and wisdom)
Marduk (king of kings, monster slayer)
The dragons of Lingusia are ancient dimensional travelers, moving from one plane of existence to the next in a cosmic exodus that has been going on for countless eons. The dragons speak of a time when they were born at the dawn of existence, shortly after the spontaneous manifestation of their progenitor god, the enigmatic entity called Ea or Io.
Ea/Io was said to have founded a fabulous “First World” from which the dragons were created shortly thereafter. Depending upon which faction of dragons (and indeed which planar realm you are in, for the dragons have spread out over countless worlds) the stories tend to diverge on what came to pass afterwards. Note that scholars of the Middle Kingdoms who are familiar with this tale speculate that Ea was an Elder God who left this plane of existence long ago to found his own world in the extraplanar realms.
In Lingusia, the dragons tell a tale of two great entities, the first male and female dragons: Tiamat and Apsu. Many planes of existence have similar beliefs about these two entities, interestingly; Tiamat is often seen among human civilizations as the “Mother of all Monsters” and a destroyer goddess; Apsu was her male counterpart, the ruler of solid land and the earthen planes of existence.
A third figure also appears in the mythology, known only as Marduk. Among men Marduk is seen as the god of kings in those realms where he is worshipped; references in ancient texts can be found to this god in Lingusia, though no men have worshipped him for thousands of years.
The dragons tell a tale of how Io gave birth to the first two dragons: Tiamat, the dragon goddess of the eternal sea, and Apsu the lord of the lands. They in turn spawned the dragons as a race.
In time, Io grew old, and Tiamat and Apsu became more powerful. Some tales suggest that Io traveled to a distant realm, a place beyond even the Far Realm, where he continued to create new universes. He left behind a shadow of wisdom, cast upon his two children, who were imbued with his divinity as a result. Together, Tiamat and Apsu were guided by Io’s spirit.
Unfortunately, Tiamat held the darkness of Io’s soul within her, and she also embodied the power of creation, which in turn meant she was the destroyer of worlds, for she could only remake the creations of her father, not produce new domains of existence. Apsu, as the lord of the earth, was a stable entity. It is said that his wisdom and his guidance under the benevelont side of Io gifted him with the creation of all life.
Tiamat eventually took the dragon god Apsu as her consort, and from this union she gave birth to Kingu, who some would also later call the Behemoth (or Bahamut, as it came to be corrupted). Tiamat raised Kingu and taught him to be supremely loyal to her, and eventually coerced him in to patricide, aiding him in the betrayal and death of Apsu. Though Kingu regretted Apsu’s death, his lyalty to Tiamat was total.
Dragons as the first race ruled this First World without question, but the lesser races existed as their play things. In time, the lesser races grew in their own power and wisdom, and new lesser gods that were not dragons emerged. Thus eventually did Marduk, the first king of men, come to be born.
In this era of Marduk’s birth Tiamat had grown very fond of Kingu, her revered husband, and gifted him with three powerful Tablets of Destiny, which contained the wisdom and power of Io that had been stolen from Apsu’s own flesh after his assassination. It was upon these divine tablets which she is said to have transcribed the beginning and ending history of existence. With these tablets, Kingu was believed to be the most powerful of gods.
When at last Marduk was of an age of power among the lesser gods, he was driven to lead his first people, called the Annunaki, to strike against the cruelty fo Tiamat and Kingu. Uniting his people, the Annunaki struck against all dragons in a cosmic war that cast them down from dominion over the First World; Marduk personally slew both Tiamat and Kingu, taking the Tablets of Destiny from the Behemoth for his own power. Many tales suggest that Kingu’s own blood spilt upon the ground, and from it the first men were born.
Tiamat and Kingu’s deaths severed their connection to the spirit of Io, which was fractured. Tiamat, filled with power that transcended death, lashed out, destroying the First World, and in doing so destroying he sacred home of all dragonkind. The exodus before her great destruction and rebirth is lost to time, but it is said that this is how the dragons, and many other races, found their way in to the planes of existence, as a means of escape from her wrath.
With the destruction of the First World Tiamat was stricken with grief, for all that was perfect in existence had been devastated. She called upon her power of rebirth to remake the world, but she found that without the power of Io to guide her, she made a hollow reflection of that perfect first realm. She used her powers to reincarnate her beloved Kingu, who returned, but was also stricken with grief for the terrible misdeeds he had committed in the name of the creator god’s power; he cast of his identity, and adopted the name of Bahamut, after which he is known to this day. Horrified at the destruction Tiamat had wrought, Bahamut sought to oppose her. In her anger, Tiamat sought out another soul with which to propogate the seeds of a new universe; it is said that many have succumbed to her, and on occasion even Bahamut has sought to consort with her, if only to steer her away from the destruction of universes filled with life.
The dragons tell tales of how, to this day, the cycle of destruction and rebirth continues, endlessly, as Tiamat seeks to recreate the First World oncemore. Dragonkind has been spread out, a great diaspora, across the many planes of existence. Some dragons sought refuge from the madness of their gods. Others seek to aid her, desiring once more to find the First World. A few are more malicious, realizing the cosmic power Tiamat holds within her, and the uses it can be put to. The dragonkin who worship Bahamut seek to end the cycle, to sate Tiamat’s madness and to make amends for her dark deeds.
In Lingusia, the Dragon Queen Thalassa rules with an iron fist over all dragonkind, no matter what their lineage. She is a dedicate to Tiamat, and has spend centuries in deep slumber seeking out there whereabouts of the goddess. None have heard from her other than in dark dreams for nearly two thousand years, and Thalassa believes that Tiamat could, if prompted, find that the realm of Lingusia might provide her with the tools necessary to unmake and than recreate existence as the First World, at last. It is Thalassa’s cult beliefs that when Io spawned all of existence, he did so in many realms, simultaneously, and that these realms are “hubs” of different points of reality; perhaps, Thalassa reasons, if Tiamat is able to remake the centerpoint of one such hub, she will be able to recreate the First World at last.
There are many regional cults to Bahamut, although they are not in favor among the dragons of Lingusia, who are predominantly a mix of Tiamat worshippers or have simply moved on, seeking to worship the regional gods of Chaos and Order instead. The cults of Bahamut have been outlawed by the Dragon Queen, and Thalassa seeks their elimination, to insure her plans eventually succeed. She is nearly five thousand years old; she has very long term visions of the future.
All text copyright 2011 by Nicholas Torbin Bergquist, all rights reserved